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FAQs about Flatworms, Including "Planaria" 1

Related Articles: Flatworms (incl. Planaria), Pest Flatworm Control by Anthony Calfo, Worms, Featherduster Worms

Related FAQs: Flatworms 2, Flatworms 3, & FAQs on: Flatworm Identification, Flatworm Behavior, Flatworm Compatibility, Flatworm Control, Predator Control, Chemical Control, Flatworm Selection, Flatworm Systems, Flatworm Feeding, Flatworm Disease, Flatworm Reproduction, & Fish Worms DiseasesWorm Identification, Worms, Fire/Bristleworms

Low Salinity to treat flatworms in Reef 9/30/05 Hey crew, I've lowered my salinity to 1.012 in my reef tank to try and get rid of flat worms.  <Yikes!!!  While this may indeed rid your tank of flatworms, it is also very hard on all of the life that you don't want to kill.  Worms, 'pods, etc. will all suffer and likely die in such low salinity.  Also, all of the dying flatworms will release a large load of nutrients and possibly toxins into the water.> How long do I have to keep the salinity level down (hours, days, weeks)?  and is the salinity low enough at 1.012 to rid myself of this problem?  Any information you have would be much appreciated. Thanks, Jay  <I would suggest raising your salinity back to normal over then next couple of days.  Do this with 25% or so water changes with normal strength salt water.  Flatworm problems can usually be resolved with better husbandry (water changes, skimming, water movement, predators).  Hopefully some of the beneficial live will be spared, and if your flatworm problem persists, you can siphon them out during water changes, increase water movement and improve your skimming to try and control them.  Also, possible predators include "target" mandarins and the "blue velvet" sea slug.  Best Regards.  AdamC.> Downsizing  9/21/05 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. here today!> I first want to thank you for the information you put out in publication and on the web.  So many people love to get into the hobby, but they don't do their home work and end up with more issues than they could ever have dreamed of. <Amen!> Many of us are conscientious, because of the fact that we bought the tanks, fish, coral, etc. and now are trying to be responsible people and provide a healthy environment, but many stores don't have educated people to guide  us. <Glad to hear of your philosophy! However, many fish stores do have dedicated personnel who are knowledgeable and compassionate about the animals that they sell'> Now to my issue.  I have had larger salt water tanks for about 5 years  now. I have a 180 gal now that, unfortunately I have introduced flat worms  and Aiptasia.  I have tried Berghia which had no effect at all and  Peppermint Shrimp that seem to be making a dent, not completely sure yet. I have just decided to downsize (too much to take care of right now) to a 75  gal.  I have decided to put in new sand and rock (running a Berlin  system). I was wondering if 1) I should transfer any of the water from the old tank <Well, it would be nice, but with the flatworm issue, it would be too easy to accidentally siphon some in with the water and start the problem anew in the 75. I'd make new water, myself.> 2) What is the best way (if there is any) to eliminate the flat worms from  hairy anemones, button anemones and star polyps as I would like to keep them. <There are a number of chemical controls for these pests, but the "cures" do carry some risk of collateral damage. I'd check on the many hobbyist message boards to hear what other hobbyists are using.> Also, is there a quick way to get the anemones to release from the  old rock?   <Unfortunately, there is no easy reliable way to get these animals off without injuring them. Best to chip away bits of rock around them and to glue the small rock onto larger rock in the new system.> Any guidance would be appreciated. Best regards, Melanie Roberts Castle Rock, Colorado <Hope this helps! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> Melting Xeniids & Flatworms Galore Hi there WWM Crew. <Hey, Mike G with you tonight> Have been enjoying your site and links but have run into a couple of problems. To begin, let me give you the stats on the tank: <I personally thank you for giving me the stats on your tank. Out of many, many emails I have answered today, you are the first to provide such information. :-) > SG 1.025 <Fine> pH 8.0 in the morning (before lights come on) and 8.2 5 hours after lights on.. <You might want to find a way to remedy this. That is a large pH swing, and would cause undue stress to your pets.> NO2 (0) <Perfect> NO3 (20)  <Okay, but it could be a bit lower> NH3 (0)  <Perfect> Tank is set up with l MH l4000K and 2 65W 03 actinic along with a Bak Pak 2R protein skimmer that's skimming l/2 C of green stuff a day. Tank temp. fluctuates between 77.5 to 80F degrees lately. Water change weekly 15 gals. Sometimes time doesn't permit, and water gets changed every 2 weeks. <Sounds fine. I am left wondering how large your tank is, though.> Problem l: For some reason, my pulsing xenias are dying (melting) and I can't figure out why. Have had these Xenias now for almost 2 years pulsing and dividing away and now...  What's going on here? <This is a common problem with Xeniid corals, they seem to "melt" when in unfavorable conditions or after drastic changes in water parameters. Take a gander at the following link, namely the topic "Xenia Health" about 3/4 down the page. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/xeniidfaqs3.htm  > Problem 2: My frog spawn frag (originally only 2 heads - now 6 heads) has been invaded with oval shaped pumpkin colored flatworms - have no idea where they came from as I do quarantine any and all going into the main tank. I've read that they come and go But, now they've migrated to my pagoda coral and I really don't want it to take over the whole tank (60 gal)!  <Ah, there we go, 60 gallons. Flatworms have a habit of overrunning marine aquaria.> On my next water change or sooner, can I do a fresh water dip or Lugol's iodine dip on these two corals without harming them and hopefully getting rid of the flatworms?  <That is exactly what I would have recommended you do.> Thank you for your help/advice. <Best of luck, Mike G>

Predatory Polyclad flatworm 6/7/03 Hey guys, <cheers, mate> I've been trying to find out what this thing is for about a month now with no luck.   <no worries... an easy ID> The first sighting was by my wife as she walked out of the bathroom and saw it on the glass.  She woke me up and I took some pictures of it thinking it was some kind of sea slug.   <actually a true flatworm> Since my tank was cycling I was sure that my water conditions would kill it.  About 3 weeks later we returned home late at night, and for some reason I decided to turn the tank lights on to see if there were any nocturnal hitch hikers that I didn't know about (bristle worms, mantis shrimp and stuff like that).  I saw this thing again, but it was much smaller, about half to one-third the size of the first one I saw. <could be the same one... color is paling, and it is slowly starving to death. Such flatworms have very specific predatory diets in the wild> I took some more pictures as it crawled into a hole in my live rock. Someone suggested it is a Polyclad flatworm. Any ideas? Thanks in advance, Kevin <yep... I took a series of photographs of a very similar looking worm for our new Reef Invertebrates books. This species preys on Tridacnid clams and actually resembles the mantle of a T. squamosa. It needs to be removed. See attached pic. Kind regards, Anthony>

Flatworm/Planaria... not the bad kind 6/4/03 Hey there!! <Howdy-do my aquatic cowgirl! Err... Cheers, I meant to say> I noticed this critter gliding along the side of one of my tanks which houses a tube anemone, mushroom and a soft coral along with a huge pc of Marshall Island rock. I am guessing it came from the rock but who knows. It is really neat to watch, it glides along the side of my tank and when it encounters bugs on the glass, it scoops them into itself...... any idea what it is and if it is a friend or foe? <neutral like Switzerland. 'Tis a flatworm/"Planaria" but not the awful Acoel red-brown devils. The white ones simply eat copepods largely. And although copepods are desirable, the worms population simple waxes and wanes with the copepods. They are all eater by most fishes just the same. No worries> Thanks for any info and the great site! <our pleasure> Denise Goodheart <kind regards, Anthony>

- On Mandarinfish and red planarians - <Good morning, JasonC here...> First, thanks for maintaining this excellent site. Its a truly great resource. <I'm glad you find it useful.> I've read most of the Mandarinfish Faq's and just have one question left that I can't seem to find an answer to.... I have a tank that should be able to sustain a Mandarin.(75Gallon, 115lbs liverock, 4" 1mm aragonite deep sand bed, 30gallon fishless miracle-mud Chaetomorpha refugium with another 20lbs liverock upstream, 20 gallon 4"deep sugar sand aragonite raceway full of Halimeda algae plumbed upstream as well) Both the refugium and the raceway are overflowing with amphipods. My problem is that I have a decent population (not really a plague) of red planarians. (the population is small, sparsely covering only a foot or so of tank during the periodic blooms, then they die back.) I have read that Mandarins eat some types of worms as well as amphipods. Would a Mandarin eat them, and if so is that a bad thing for him? <If I were a mandarin dragonet and given my choice between flatworms and amphipods, I'd eat the amphipods first. That being said, there's just no way to guarantee the fish will do one or the other.> I have read that the planarians are toxic, and wouldn't want the Mandarin to poison himself. <Hard to say for certain... there are many, many types of flatworms that are also red.> Getting rid of the planarians would take only one extra pump, I think, but it would be mounted in an awkward place, so I'd like to leave them alone if I can. -mat <Cheers, J -- >

Acoel flatworms (AKA Rust-brown Planaria) 5/23/03 Hello Crew, <Howdy, Paul> Thanks in advance for taking the time to view and answer my/everyone's questions. <always a pleasure> I have a small 10 gallon tank that houses a maxima clam, a carnation coral, and a branching frogspawn coral.  Unfortunately, the tank is a little limited in flow, so I have a huge outbreak of flatworms. I don't want to keep the tank up and running, will use it as a QT tank once emptied and clean.   <indeed... too small for the frogspawn and anything else in its reach (aggressive) as you know> My question is on transferring the before mentioned livestock to my 90 Gallon reef tank.  I don't want to introduce the flatworms to that tank.   <actually... they are present in most every aquarium (very common)... they just get expressed in some tanks to plague proportions. Quite often mitigated by slow water flow in the tank as you have noted> Can I freshwater dip the clam?   <not at all... will harm or kill it> He is attached to a small rock, so I shake him a bit in a container of sea water to get some of the flatworms to fall off, them dip him, then into QT.  What about the corals?   <just a good thrashing in seawater is fine. Successive rinses if you like. They cannot be eradicated. No worries. Good husbandry in the next tank will likely spare you> What can be done to them to prevent any introduction of the flatworms?   <strict 4 week QT of all new livestock (plants, algae, rock, coral, etc). Most any pest predator or disease can be spotted in the interim> I planned to put all of them into the QT tank for a period of time after dipping or doing whatever was necessary to see if they are clean, then move them over.  Any suggestions? Thanks. Paul <no worries, bud... really a minor nuisance. They wax and wane on their own (months)... can be knocked down singly by aggressive skimming or improved water flow. Many possibilities. An overrated pest IMO. Best regards, Anthony> Coral Eating Flatworms and need for QT 3/25/03 Dear WWM crew- <cheers, mate> For the last year my Acropora sp. corals have been ravaged by coral eating flatworms (see picture in Julian Sprung's Invertebrates book or The Modern Coral Reef Aquarium).   <yes... quite familiar with it. It is an aquarists penitence for not properly using a QT tank for all new livestock. Its a dreadful lesson to learn the hard way. Please be sure to QT all (algae, plants, fish, live rock, coral... everything) for a simple 4 weeks first. There are several very good articles here on WWM for guidance on the topic from Fellman> I first noticed that areas of my corals were bleaching usually underneath in low flow areas.  Upon closer inspection I noted masses of <1 mm golden brown eggs next to the areas of bleaching.  The worms themselves are cream colored and blend in with the coral quite well.  In their wake they leave a pock-marked appearance to the tissue of the coral and eventual bleaching.  My control methods so far have been to scrub the eggs off (although they can be in rather inaccessible areas) and blast the corals with a powerhead so that the worms come off.  This seems to work better after the coral has been taken out of the water for 2-3 min.  By the way, my Anthias have learned to love eating the flatworms and don't usually miss a single one. <yes... but labor intensive especially for a pest that has direct development (on its prey)> My question is do you know of any other method of control or better eradication?   <nothing surefire... although many have been suggested. Anampses sp. (delicate) perhaps, but only if your tank is large (over 100 gallons), peaceful (fishes), mature (over 1 year old) and preferably with a fishless refugium to support it. These "Tamarin" wrasses have thick rasping lips... advantage over other wrasses> The worms seem to prefer my Acropora valida type corals (aka "tricolor").  They recover after my removal method but within 1 month are back in the same situation.  Halichoeres wrasses seem to ignore the worms (hard to see) and I can't imagine that a Nudibranch would climb on to a coral to get them.  Know anything about "Flatworm Exit"?   <"Coming to a Theater Near You!"> Thanks, John Boe <best of luck, John. Anthony

Dip Question Hello Crew, I have a question about dips.  I have a 10 gallon mini reef that I will be tearing down in the near future, big pain to take care of will all the fluctuations it experiences.  I have a frogspawn, Maxima claim, and 1 Green carnation coral ( Dendronephthya ).  The tank has been running for over a year now.  The problem is that there are quite a bit of those little brown/red flatworms in the tank.  I want to move the corals/clam to the main tank, but not the flatworms.  I thought that I had read something about freshwater dips not being to good for corals, is that the case?  What can I do to make sure I don't bring the flatworms over.  Will I need to QT the animals since I know where they are coming from and that besides flatworms, they are not diseased in any other visible way?   As always, thank you! Paul <  Many times simply increasing your water flow will do the trick, also siphoning them out every water change will help.  A protein skimmer also helps by removing organics which they feed on.  I wouldn't do a dip here, especially not freshwater, too risky.  Read here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/flatwormfaqs.htm Cody>

Re: what is it I found this critter swimming around in my invert. tank I've never seen one before. I hope the attachment helps it is about 1/2 an in. long x 3/16 wide and sort of flat it swims erratically and is a translucent beige it also moves by means of the Celia around the back portion. q.-2 a maroon algae type slime has started to grow in my tank which I'm sure I imported on a thorny oyster how do I get rid of it or should I. <Looks, sounds like a flatworm of some sort. If not many, causing troubles I would ignore it/them. Likely "they too shall pass". Bob Fenner>


Brown Flatworms? - 2/11/03 Hi, <Hello. Paul at your service> I purchased a small fragment of live rock with a nice growth of red kelp on it yesterday evening and then placed it in my tank after some re-arranging.  Today, I noticed several (like 20 to 30) small flatworm like animals on the substrate and also on the kelp itself. <Probably Planaria.> I had never seen this little creatures before, so I'm not sure if they stowed away on the kelp and rock or if they were simply hiding under my existing rockwork and were disturbed when I re-arranged things.<See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/flatworms.htm Do any of these seem like the one exhibited in your rockwork? Probably there but again could easily have come on the newly acquired piece. Good argument for quarantine. In any event, I don't think there is anything to worry about here.> They are less then an 1/8 inch in length, a brownish green color with a red spot or two on them.<yeah, definitely starting to sound more and more like a Planaria type worm>  Should I be concerned about these little hitchhikers? <Not necessarily. They will wax and wane with good flow and water changes. I have had a few to a few hundred at times in my years of reefkeeping. Be sure that they don't inhibit ("smother") your photosynthetic organisms.>  Will they eat the algae or possible harm my current tank inhabitants (a bubble tip anemone, red collared snails, peppermint shrimp, small red reef hermits). <I am fairly sure they will have little impact to your tank inhabitants one way or the other including algae. They come and go.>   Is there anything that would eat the flatworms and leave the other tank inhabitants alone (preferably invert, not looking to add anymore fish)? <Check out the preceding link and also this one as well http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pestflatwrmanthony.htm>   Thanks! <You're welcome. Good luck!>

Little Flatworms- Big Headaches! Hi Guys, <Scott F. your guy tonight> I've had those pesky red flatworms in my reef tank for about a year now. I've tried to leave them alone and hope they crash.  I've tried to siphon them out daily.  I even took my whole tank apart and rinsed everything thoroughly in a very low salinity dip. They still came back. <These are tenacious, annoying little guys, I sympathize!> I've been reading about the Flatworm Exit product by Salifert on Reefcentral's website. The forums suggest the product itself is safe for fish and corals but the toxin from the dead flatworms is definitely a concern. <I am not familiar with this product...I usually am skeptical about chemical formulations that are supposed to be effective against one creature, but harmless to other reef animals...I like Salifert products, but I don't know about this one...> I was thinking that if I siphoned everyone I could see for a week or longer, the population might be low enough to use safely use this product. <Or to safely use some natural control, like a predatory wrasse, etc> I would also use Poly Filter and carbon to remove the toxins. <Well, if you're gonna use a chemical, I agree that PolyFilter is good to use to remove excess concentrations of the product> While I have never been one to reach for a chemical like this to solve a problem, I feel it may be my only options to finally rid my tank of these resilient creatures.  Any thoughts on the product or procedure? <I understand and appreciate your concerns. It's a really tough call. Do you know what the active ingredient(s) in this stuff are? Perhaps, knowing what you're going to potentially dump into your tank can help you decide if it's worth the possible complications...maybe worth an email to the folks at Salifert?> This problem seems to be affecting SO many people.  Has this problem become more severe the last few years or is it just that communication is so much better? <Probably a little of each...And do take heart- there is some promising research going on regarding flatworm control using simple, truly "reef safe" ingredients...maybe it will pay off down the line...stay tuned.> Many thanks for years of help, Craig <Hang in there, Craig...chat with some fellow hobbyists who have used this stuff, exhaust all other methods before you use it, then proceed with caution. Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Odd creature attached to coral ? A flatworm [picture attached] Anthony, I hope you all had a great Christmas and I hope the New Year will be good to you all at WetWebMedia. <and to you in kind, with thanks> With reference to our previous discussion.  Father Christmas delivered me a digital camera for Christmas.  I am still learning how to use it on manual settings, because auto doesn't work very well on the tank, it tends to focus on the glass and not the subject Anyway find attached some shots of the beast.  The last shot was taken by someone else so pass it around, but please don't publish it.  You're free to do what you will with the rest of the shots.  I will get better with the camera and try to take better shots.  When I get some good shots I will email them to you.  But the following is a taster of things to come. Thanks, Jon <thank you, my friend... the picture named "parasite" helped immensely. It is an unmistakable flatworm. Rather common... indeed parasitic but slow to harm. Simply remove it with tweezers. It is unlikely to have reproduced but look for symptoms of offspring just the same in the coming weeks. Best regards, Anthony>

School project and Planaria what kind of food do Planaria worms eat. <it depends on the species... but most feed low on the food chain (most dead organic matter)> also what kinds of stable living conditions do the need. <again, it depends on the species being kept> Can they survive in cold and warm weather. Can they be cut many times so they regenerate. cause I am doing a science fair project on them give me lots of info <I understand, my young friend. Alas... the question posed is very general. You need to identify a species that you want to work with first. Then determine its needs. My advice is to do some keyword searches on big search engines for this information to begin with. We are an aquatics related web site. Our limited perspective of Planaria is of pest species. Our focus is on eradicating them. No husbandry advice here on how to culture them. Best regards, Anthony>

Rings on fingers and Flatworms on Leathers Dear all, I recently purchase a toadstool (Sarcophyton) possibly glaucum, soft coral, it has huge extended polyps and looks really healthy.  However, under close inspection there are a number of small 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch patches of transparent red speckled areas.  Out of these areas gossamer like tendrils appear and stretch to about 6 inches and then retract.  I would like to know what these are and if they are a danger to the otherwise healthy looking fish and corals.  One of these patches has now appeared on another leather coral which was within tendril reach.  Please help ? Many Thanks, Jon Pinfold <hmmm... flatworms (predatory and incidental) are quite common here... but the "tendrils" are strange. Do you think they could be fine strands of mucus from the occupation of a flatworm? If not, we may need a clear image of the area/organism. Best regards, Anthony>

Flatworms in my home I am not sure that your contacts are the correct source for my question but perhaps you can point me in the right direction. We have a large shower in our home. A few small, dark gray flatworms have crawled out of the drain during the daytime while we are not home. I have also found some samples in the shower early in the morning. We set a clear bowl over the drain and trapped some each day over a period of 3 - 4 days. Is there an environmentally safe substance I can use to kill the worms? If not, what would you recommend? thanks, Ronnie Lanier <I do believe drain cleaner (caustic soda) will easily do the trick for you. Best regards, Anthony>

Red Flatworm Outbreak Hi again today, I wrote to you yesterday about a sandsifting star and snail compatibility. I want to thank you for the answers. Today, I'm writing on behalf of a friend of mine. He told me today, he has what he thinks is a red flatworm " Planaria" outbreak on his rocks.  <yes... they are actually acoel flatworms> I am about to leave to go and see it. So far, from searching about what to do about this on ReefCentral, one of the common answers was either a mandarin, or a six-line wrasse.  <hmmm... increased water flow alone often does the trick... and aggressive skimming. See here :http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pestflatwrmanthony.htm> His tank is not mature enough for a mandarin, and he has wanted a six-line from seeing mine anyways, so he figures he'll get one. However, we know it's always a hit and miss with if certain fish will clean up, or eradicate these problems.  <I think it is very unlikely that the six-line will clean up these worms> What else would you recommend to do about this? Thanks in advance, Greg n. <they are tricky to eradicate and often run their course in just a few months. Little to worry about, just ugly in the interim. Do read the above article. Kindly, Anthony>

Polyclad flatworm question Hey guys, <howdy do?> Let me first thank you all for the hard work you've put into the site. Having only five weeks into the hobby, the information has proven invaluable in both the months before and weeks after setting up my tank. Especially so in helping me selecting appropriate livestock for my skill level and biotope I am attempting to humbly mimic. <please keep learning and sharing> So, that being said, I noticed two weeks ago a Polyclad flatworm played stow-away in a chunk of Fiji liverock. I've had a dickens of a time trying to find a match in any of the websites or invertebrate books I've consulted. Unfortunately for me, I don't own a digital camera to send you a picture. The worm is fairly large, about 3.5 inches long and elliptical in shape. The front of the worm is about 1.5inches wide which tapers to about .75-1.0 inches at the back. The worm is a translucent white with brown spots reminiscent of a leopard skin pattern.  <sounds quite beautiful> The center of the worm (digestive track?) is solid brown. It seems to be mostly reclusive and diurnal. I'm not so concerned of making a species identification, but rather if it can pose a toxic threat. <doesn't sound colorful enough to be likely/very toxic> None of the livestock in the tank has bothered it, nor have I seen it go after any fauna in the tank, including sessile invertebrates of the visible type (since it rarely stops in any one place, I am wondering if I even have the proper micro fauna established for it to feed on). <exactly... even as harmless, it is unlikely that you will have correct/enough food to support it. Good or bad> I'd rather leave the flatworm in there and enjoy the brief glimpses I can snatch of it,  <agreed> but if it can pose a threat to the health of the tank (including its inevitable demise), I'll attempt an extraction. <small risk, IMO leave it in peace and watch closely in the meantime> Thanks in advance for your assistance, Brian Rice <best regards, Anthony>

Planaria circulatory systems hello, can you help us out on a question my daughter is to answer for biology, they are going to dissect a Planaria, and they are supposed to answer this question first: how does the circulatory system of a Planaria work if they have no circulatory system, how do they breath, and do they have a heart, do they have blood or what, any info you can give will help greatly thanks <These flatworms (Phylum Platyhelminthes) utilize "general diffusion" and some active transport to move water (osmoregulation by protonephridia). Oxygen, liquid and gas wastes are moved in/out of their tissues by diffusion through the body surface... one "reason"/explanation for their two dimensionality (flatness)... and slow movement. Bob Fenner>

Flatworm Problems? Mr. Fenner I have what I think is red Planaria, (HELP!) it started 2 weeks ago and they a multiplying rapidly. I have been trying to siphon them during a water changes but this does not seem to slow them down. My question is are they dangerous to the fish or corals of my reef and what type of fish will eat them? A few people have told me that a six-line wrasse will do the trick.?? Any help will be greatly appreciated!! Thanks in advance. Dave Brunsmann <<JasonC here, Bob has gone diving in the tropics. Hmm, flatworms... complicated because, well... there are just some many of them, of which any number may be red, red-brown, etc. Some are indeed worthy of concern, others are not and this same variance applies to the critters that eat them. Does a 6-line wrasse eat flat-worms, probably. Will a 6-line wrasse eat your red flat worms - flip a coin. Best to keep up the observation, especially of your corals and fish, although less so with the fish. Read through the FAQ on flatworms on WWM - http://www.wetwebmedia.com/flatwormfaqs.htm and you'll have some more ammo. Good luck, J -- >> 

Rust Brown Planaria Hello WetWebMedia crew! <Cheers, Martha> I spoke to Anthony last time. He helped me understand the flatworm problem I am having in my tank. I wonder if I could get some additional advice? <I'm still the same guy I was all those many weeks ago...fire away!> I need to move the tank out into the garage while the inside of my house is being painted and new carpets are being laid. When I set the tank up again I will be putting in a deep sand bed (had crushed coral). It will be about 5" deep. <excellent> Right now I have my fish and coral in a 20 gallon tank and I have the rock sitting in a Rubbermaid trash can with a heater and a powerhead in there. If I can I would like to not introduce the flatworms into the tank with the DSB. I have done my reading on these critters and know that fresh to a low salinity water will kill them, but will kill other life on the rock. I wonder if you could suggest how I could get these flatworms off my rock without killing the other life on it.  <a freshwater "rinse" (cold water from the garden hose) would help greatly... this is what many of the Fiji rock collectors do... but does still kill a lot of good stuff. Yet not so much as a soak, tank bath with FW.> Impossible? <yep... they have always been there and always will be. In every tank essentially. They simply just flare in some tanks at times> Another thought was that I would like to add some of the Salt water from the 20gall and rock holding areas back into the tank with the new sand bed, in hopes of aiding the cycling. Should I give up that idea (possibility of reintroducing the flatworms?) and just add some new uncured rock to help the cycling along? <neither... the old rock or some cured rock would be best. Aged water has little to offer and uncured rock does more harm than good. Buy cured or use your old rock. Again... the worms can be controlled through aggressive skimming and strong flow. After rinsing the rock, the skimmer/current combo should be enough> Thank you in advance. Martha <very welcome indeed. Best of luck to you, dear. Anthony>

Re: Red Flatworms <Anthony> Anthony, Thank you so much for all of the valuable information you were able to provided me about my flatworm problem!  <very welcome, my friend> I never did notice before but they are at their densest in low flow areas.  <yes, they are very predictable. In aquaria with a virtual tsunami, they will find the one calm spot and get a foothold> I added a powerhead and kicked up the skimmer. I hope that might help lower the population for my corals until such a time that the flatworms naturally decreases. <just a matter of time... always seems longer than it really is <wink>> I'm off to get a copy of your book :) and just wanted to say how thankful I am. <the pleasure is truly mine that I have something to share. Kindly, Anthony> Martha

Planarian flat worms Bob, I just got done with my refugium. I went to my buddies fish store, and he gave me a bunch of grape Caulerpa algae. I put it in my refugium. I then noticed that there were also some flat worms . Should I suck them out? Or leave them in my refugium? I have a 240 F.O tank with live rock. No corals, no inverts. Thanks <Please read on the WWM site re Flatworms. Bob Fenner>

Yellow Planaria Hi Mr. Fenner ! I am looking for a way to control yellow Planaria in one of my tanks. I tore it down, re-set it up and now the little guys are back. I had some come in on a mushroom, in a different tank and I took the mushroom rock out and soaked it in a bucket of salt water at a salinity of 1.030,for about five minutes. This made the Planaria fall off, mushrooms shrank a little. Within a day the mushrooms were big and have never seen any more of the yellow Planaria, in that tank. I have now noticed a new tank critter. I had introduced the "Greek goddess", and the "lettuce " Nudibranchs. Don't know if they ate anything or not. Didn't seem to last to long. My new critter is a tiny long 3/4"to 1/2" white Nudibranch, about 12 at this time. <Interesting> The nitrate is high, <How high is "high"?> no sand in the tank, just live rock. I have a spotted Hawkfish, and cannot tell if he is eating anything or not. Do you have any suggestions on terminating the yellow fellows ? <Yes... would just ignore them.> Do you hear of this popping up with other people? Dealers ? <Other hobbyists mainly... livestock at wholesalers is only there for hours to days> These guys love light, but when corals are in the tank this is hard to cut back on. I know there is a $30.00 Nudibranch who is suppose to eat these guys? Fact ? Is this a new growing problem ? Or a rarity? <No Nudibranch or other animal eats all what people call pest flatworms... many species, varying palatability... unless these ones are causing real grief, leave them be... they will "cycle out" in time.> Now- I wish to thank you for all the hard work that you do in the aquarium industry, as you have modernized it during this computer new age and taken it to places where no fish has swam before !! Keep up the great work as it is award winning !!!! <I feel like Captain Kirk! Make it so!> Sincerely, Jim H. Malone PS. Keep on making NEW WAVES ! <Chat with you soon my friend, Bob Fenner>

Flatworm busters... I thought you might get a kick out of this. A recommendation to use Dylox to kill flatworms. I am sure that it will kill flatworms and just about everything else in the tank. Thank You, Steven Pro <Yes... I have an old pond article posted on WWM re (mis-spelled here): DTHP, Dylox, Dipterex, Neguvon, Trichlorofon... and other names... an economic poison of organo-phosphate composition... useful for killing arthropods (insect pests, crustaceans like Argulus, Lernaea on pond fishes...) Do agree with your assessment here. Bob Fenner, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/pndparasitcont.htm > AMDA Members, Marc Weiss and I have a common friend who is director of a zoological institute near Cape Town, South Africa named Alan Jardine. Alan is an accomplished fish breeder and a marine hobbyist for over 28-years. Alan has agreed to join in the search for a control of the pesky flatworm problem. Hopefully Matt and company already have it under control, but just in case they don't, I will continue to try to get people involved in finding a solution. I believe we will find the answer and the hobby will be better off as a result. Please read Alan's letter. Mitch Gibbs Hi Mitch Dr Schleyer has checked around and apparently a product called Trichlorofon which goes under the trade name Dylox and which was manufactured by Argent (?) is effective against flatworms at a dose of .25mg / litre. His concern is that this product may affect the zooxanthellae in the coral, as they have never tried it on these invertebrates. Possibly one could run a few tests with sacrificial pieces of coral and see if they begin to bleach. His team is also not sure how Trichlorofon will affect bacteria in the substrate. Once again, a proprietary bacteria culture could kick start the system. Although he can't come up with actual species, he suggests that juvenile butterfly fish may predate on the flatworms and if young enough, will not bother the corals. I'll keep checking around. Best wishes, Alan

C. varians Hi Bob, I have had a problem with the ubiquitous Planaria a.k.a. flatworms, and have purchased two C. varians to try to combat the problem. I have turned off my power heads until I can get foam filters on them, but am wondering if there could be any critter in my tank that might like a C. varians for lunch. Can you tell me what might "go after" my little flatworm eaters? <Any number of worms of different phyla, crustaceans of size if they're hungry. Where did you get this Chelidonura? Bob Fenner> Thanks, Marty

Re: C. varians Hi again Bob, Well I do have some small crabs that I bought from GARF. I don't recall what type they are so I have attached a pic. Other than some snails, that's it for sessile inverts <Umm, actually these aren't "sessile"... that is, they live on the bottom, but aren't "attached" to it permanently... so they should be able to keep out of the way> other than what's living in my sand bed. As to where I got them, your friends at FFExpress. They were quite pricey, but if they do the job I'll be happy. <We'll see... Bob Fenner> Thanks, Marty

Orange Dots (likely a Platyhelminth) Your book and WetWebMedia are the best sources for great information! Thank you for both.  <You're welcome my friend.> My reef tank is about 1 year old and doing very well, I think. I have to questions that I was unable to find answers from the web-site or book. 75-gallon tank. about 60 pound live rock and 60 pound aragonite. (2) 175 watt MH, 5500 & 10000 (10 hrs/day). (2) 40 watt NO (12 hrs/day). turbo skimmer. (1) magnum 220 with micron filter, use to pump water through UV unit. 18-watt UV unit (12 hrs/day during refugium light cycle). DIY over-flow box with "Whisper Bio-Bag", replaced weekly. (2) heaters, one in refugium and the other in the tank. (2) chemical metering pumps used to feed Kent Tectra CB products separately. Fed daily from 5-gallon buckets with top-off water (RO/DI). 30-gallon refugium with 10-pounds live rock and 20-pounds aragonite. (4) 20 watt NO bulbs for refugium, alternate light cycle from tank. Ca 365 to 400, normal 375 ppm Alk 3.0 to 3.5, normal 3.25 NO3 less then 1 ppm. pH 8.2. Temperature 78F winter and 82F summer. Specific Gravity 1.0230 to 1.0235, normal 1.0233. 30-gallon water change every 2 to 3 months with RO/DI and Reef Crystals. Add 1/4 recommended dose of "Seachem" reef iodide and reef plus (to food) weekly. Foods: Flake, Nori, Krill, Frozen Brine and my homemade recipe, based on your recipe from the "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist". <Sounds like a very nice system> My questions! My mushrooms have orange dots (2mm in size) that cover them, what are they? <Likely a type of Flatworm (Phylum Platyhelminthes)... and nothing to be overly worked up about... perhaps semi-predatory, but not easily removed, not "that" detrimental... best to leave alone... will likely "disappear" on their own someday soon> I noticed; today, that they can move around on the mushroom. The mushrooms completely open and seem fine. Is this budding reproduction? <No> The only green algae in the tank is bubble algae probably due to the yellow and purple tangs. How can prevent the bubble algae from spreading?  I have a (matrix?) crab but he is not interested. Coralline algae covers all of the side and back glass. <There are a few other predators. These are mentioned on the "Marine Algae" control FAQs on our site... otherwise, I would extract what you can by scrubbing the rock involved, ignore the rest.> My Royal Gramma that is about 1 year old has always appeared to have a white tint over his front purple part, is this a problem that can be corrected? <Try a cleaner organism here... otherwise no real problem> Thank you all the questions you have already answered through you book and web-site. <That's only for today! Many lifetimes worth of material still to go. Bob Fenner> Robert Burns

Flatworm eaters Hi Bob, <Lorenzo Gonzalez here, Bob's in Asia somewhere for a while...> I have recently had an outbreak of flatworms in my 80 gal reef tank. They are small (maybe 1/8" long), oval, beige colored and flat. They do not seem to be bothering any corals though they do get on the snails. I see them mostly on the LR, tank sides and any plastic (powerheads, plumbing, etc) parts. While they are not doing any damage that I can see, they are unsightly and I suppose if the population gets high enough they will cause problems.  <These things are kinda gross, aren't they? Can do damage to some inverts, like corallimorpharians (mushrooms) and similar...> I emailed a MO source about a slug that eats flatworms, they were out of stock but suggested some fish that may also eat flatworms. My question is, which of the fish would most likely do best against flatworms? Would they get along ok with current inhabitants: Bicolor blenny, Kole tang, pair Pink skunk clowns, pair Ocellaris clowns, pair Banggai cardinals (at this moment in a separate breeding tank) and a common Firefish, also an assortment of snails, hermits, Brittlestars, SPS, LPS, soft corals, Long tentacle and Bubble tip anemones. Here is a copy of the response I received, their possible fish list is at the end. <Nice assortment there...> "We are sold out of the Nudibranchs right now, they are called Velvet Slugs. They do eat them, but I added 2 to my 37gallon and 3 to my 100gallon and they disappeared after a few days, I don't think they are real hardy. I've been fighting those flatworms too, hate them, they don't both the corals, but just ugly to look at. <He's not kidding about Nudibranchs not being 'real hardy'. Truth is, they're almost impossible to keep alive in all but the largest, most diverse, carefully managed reef systems. Beautiful, but doomed.> There are some fish rumored to eat them, one or more of these listed do, we added all to our coral system during and outbreak and something ate them all, just wasn't sure which one of these: Sunrise Dottyback Sixline Wrasse Yellow Mandarin Goby Green Mandarin Goby Yellowhead Sleeper Gobies. My hunch is it was the sleeper gobies." <No way. I HIGHLY doubt it was the sand-sifting sleepers. And forget the Mandarin 'Gobies'. These beautiful little guys only eat live, teensy crustaceans, and are incredibly hard to keep because of it. (Big, old, healthy, reef system required). Best bet for munching undesirables is the wrasse, then maybe the Dottyback.> Mostly worried how my blenny will take to a goby as they are similar in body shape and he might see it as a rival. <Your bi-color (love this clown fish!) will probably get along fine with everything listed, and sleeper gobies are incredibly good for your sand bed, if you have a healthy-enough sandbed to keep them fed. Best of all, a small 6 or 8-lined wrasse, or a yellow Coris, is a great addition to most any reef, clam keepers love them for munching on certain clam-munching snails - though a wrasse will likely rule out any future possibility of having a Mandarin, due to competition for foodstuffs. > Thanks! Kathy <A pleasure. Lorenzo>

Re: parasite? I'm sorry we were discussing treatment of flukes. Is quarantine part of protocol or would fresh water dips with Meth blue or formaldehyde do the trick say every two days?  <The quarantine is part of the treatment protocol... to give this fish time/space to rest up and prevent immediate re-infestation> I'm hoping so. Also I did the search on the topic and kind find much info on the life cycle. Like how long they can stay alive off the fish in order for me to proceed. <Depends on the species... the systematics of the group points this up... monogenes have direct life cycles... on the fish, off the fish, on... the digenes have more complex "intermediate host" needs... and are easily defeated by excluding these other life forms... and waiting... a few weeks to months...> Are they as difficult to rid your tank of as ich? <No... in almost all cases, much easier... use the search terms "Trematode", "Flukes", "Fishes", "Parasites", "Marine", "Disease"... in your directory, engines. Bob Fenner>

Pseudoceros ? Dear Bob, My reef tank is now in its 4th month and I will soon add a Heteractis crispa anemone, blue leg and scarlet hermits, turbo snails, cleaner shrimp, mushroom anemones, and later some fish. The mysterious "tube anemone" or coral or ? colony I asked you about earlier has multiplied in a cluster - not to any other rocks - just within a 6 square inch area. The largest now has a 3/4 inch disk and 1 1/4 inch diameter including the tentacles. They are now brown rather than white opaque since I got the 500+ watts of VHO going. Someday I'll find out what I have - as I said, they look nothing like the pictures of Aiptasia (I've had my share of them but with your advice got rid of them for now). They look more like individual heads of a coral cluster. <Maybe, indeed, a coral after all!> Now I have another uninvited Live rock volunteer that looks like Pseudoceros splendidus but without the red border or any border, this guy is solid black. He is about 1 1/2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. There is another one about 1/2 inch long. They come out only at night and roam around the rock work. I read with horror the flatworm FAQS. Is this a friend or foe? Will they multiply and cause a plague? <Likely not a friend... If it were me, I'd gingerly vacuum it/them out with a piece of "rigid tubing" attached to a siphon> Also, a second hand rock came with numerous lovely little 1/4 inch or less fringed polyps that fluoresce brightly under the actinics and even a bit after the lights are out. <Neat> Very very tiny white (lice like) animals crawl around some of the rocks at night. (I am really into this hobby and want to know all I can about what I am keeping). <Take a cruise through the Aquarium Frontiers archives... Link to same on the WWM site's link pages if your search engine doesn't pull up... for articles about marine invertebrates associated with live rock, substrates... These are likely some sort of amphipod crustacean...> My water is perfect: 0 on all chemistry, 8.2 pH, Ca, KH, Spg., all at ideal levels. Only thing not perfect is temperature which varies from 78.5 in the morning to 82 after a day of lights and wave makers on full daytime cycle. Will this temp. problem be ok for my longer range plans for corals and a variety of fish? <Shouldn't be too problematical... considering the rest of the system> The Turboflotor 1000 effectiveness is doubled or tripled after a put and old air pump on the venture tube. <Ah good. Bob Fenner>

Re: Flatworms Bob, Just wanted to let you know what I've learned. The Blue Mandarins didn't seem to be making much of a dent on my flatworms. In fact I never saw them go after even one. After doing some more research, I found a recommendation regarding freshwater dips. I took out every piece of coral and live rock, and dipped it for 10 seconds in buffered freshwater, then shook it vigorously for a couple of seconds. Those worms just flew right off. I then scraped my glass, let things settle for a 1/2 hour, and vacuumed the bottom. Obviously even with this procedure, I could not get them all. I restacked and next day received my FF order, which included 3 neon gobies, 4 Scooters and 2 psychedelics, and 1 Scott's Fairy Wrasse (boy is he cool). What was left of my worms are just about gone now. I don't know who did the munching for certain, but my guess is the psychedelics. My corals are kinda shrunken from the dip, but I think they'll be okay. Would you recommend an Iodine addition to help them, (I still use Kent Part A and Part B) or just let things settle? >> Thanks for the input... it probably was... either the Psychedelic or Scooter "blennies" (actually both are of the same family as the Mandarins... Dragonets, Callionymidae). And yes to the iodine dosage... a good idea for traumatized corals. Bob Fenner

A plague of this or that... now flatworms? Bob, Sorry for the MS Word attachment. That crude drawing I sent a week or so ago has really multiplied. I found a site with a pic and have inserted it in the doc. I hope you can help... Marty >> A plague of this or that... now flatworms? You might have success with Callionymid (Mandarin/Psychedelic Goby/Dragonet/Scooter "Blenny") members.... eating these... or on to the great sea slug search.... Bob Fenner

Flat worms Good Evening Bob, A couple months ago I inquired about a problem with flatworms and I tried your suggestion of the peppermint shrimp and they haven't taken a liking to the flatworms (although they took care of my Aiptasia in the last couple months). I have looked for Synchiropus morrisoni but haven't had any luck. Can you direct me to a source for Synchiropus morrisoni or do you have any other suggestions? I am hesitant to get another member in the Synchiropus family because I thought they would starve. Unfortunately the problem is getting worse since I upgraded to metal halide lamps... the flatworms like the light as much as my clams and corals. Thanks for your time, David >> Hmm, surprised I missed mention of this before... but let's do raise the bar to a Callionymid/Psychedelic Goby/Dragonet that does live... one that FFExpress sells (as do many folks) as a Scooter Blenny (Neosynchiropus ocellatus)... take a look at the FFExpress.com site under Fishes, Blennies... there it is. If this doesn't do the trick (different flatworm species are unpalatable to different predators... and can even change their "tastiness"!) we'll get on to the best wrasse species as potential flatty eaters... Bob Fenner

Flat worms! A friend of mine asked me to email you. His 180 reef has the dreaded flat worm problem. His gobies seem to do a good job of keeping them off the open areas of sand, but around the edges and up the sides look horrible. Any thoughts on how to "stem the tide?" And how do we prevent the outbreak from occurring in the first place? Thanks! By the way, he's got a bunch of live rock, lots of corals, Kole tang, 2 gobies, a mandarin, blue tang, etc. He doesn't want me to tell you, but he's my LFS guy! He's now asking me for advice! >> <Hmm, you might want to look into the SeaSlug Forum on the Net, and try one or more of the celebrated species... Other Pseudocheilinus Wrasse Species... are worth a go as well... the list can go on from here. Bob Fenner

Flatworms "Planaria" My 135 gal reef tank which has been set up for about 1 year recently developed an infestation of Planaria. There have been no new additions for the last four months. The corals are still in excellent health and are exhibiting signs of growth. They include Green Hammers , Red and Green Open Brains, 3 Elegance, Bubble, 2 Varieties of Hydnophora, Torch Coral, assorted mushrooms, A Cynarina lacramalysis, (meat, modern cats eye), and an unidentified leather possibly a devil's finger. I've even tried a mandarin goby and a six line wrasse and still these pests are present. I really have not seen either fish eat any of these flat worms. Sprung & Delbeek in Vol 2 recommend a variety of Nudibranch, C. varians. The fish population is small 2 perculas, 2 green Chromis, 3 Chinese zebra gobies, Randall's goby. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Greg >> I know what you mean... and it's tough to get rid of these flatworm plagues... even if the animals don't appear to be causing trouble. Other than selecting vacuuming them out, keeping an eye out for the elusive specific Nudibranch predator, I'd try another, in this case, larger species of "lined" wrasse (genus Pseudocheilinus), either an Eight Line or an Evan's or Disappearing Wrasse... Let's keep our fingers crossed that these labrids find your species of flatworm tasty. Bob Fenner

Reef infestation HI Bob, I have a 55G reef tank that has been running successfully for 4 1/2 years now. Tank consists of live rock, and live sand replaced the crushed coral bottom about 2 1/2 years ago. The tank had originally been set up with two 40 W 10,000 K, and two 40 W actinics. In the last six months, I have upgraded to 4 96W power compact setup. Two problems seemed to coincide with this new addition. (1) Since the addition of the new lights, I have seen an ever increasing population of what appears to be brown slugs or shell less snails all over my live rock and sand. They don't appear to be damaging anything, just very unsightly. I have consulted references to try to determine what these are, but to no avail. They are about 1/16" wide, and an eighth of an inch long. Light brown in color, with a red tail end. They propel themselves around on the glass, and hang out in large groups on the bottom of the tank and are scattered throughout. When in groups, they actually look like brown algae covering the sand or rock. I've tried water changes, and just plain sucking them off the rocks on a daily basis for a week, but they just come out of the woodwork again , and multiply. They appear to multiply by division, one splits to create two, two split to create four, etc. So exponential numbers are attainable very quickly. I have thought that something might be available to eat these little buggers, but I don't want to worry about anything being detrimental to the reef and corals. Someone had suggested a long nose Hawkfish, but I haven't tried it yet. I currently have 2 sally light foot crabs, several blue leg hermits, and a couple brittle stars for scavengers, but that's it for inverts. Fish include yellow tang, tomato clown, algae blenny, and gumdrop goby. Please let me know what your recommendation is. System is also running a Turboflotor 1000 skimmer (awesome piece of equipment), and lights are staged for about 10 hrs a day. Whew!!!!  (Problem 2) Quick one, I promise- Purple and pink coralline algae were also thriving before the addition of the custom sea life PC's. Since then, it has bleached out and only appears to have survived, and is thriving in the shadows. Too much light? I am debating about ordering the same bulbs next time, only in 55 W . My local store has already confirmed these will work with the 96W ballasts. All corals still appear to be doing very well, and propagation is done frequently. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks in advance. Brad >> Thank you for writing and hence being an active part of this forum. The organisms that you so well describe are no doubt a species of "free-living" Flatworm (Phylum Platyhelminthes, Class Turbellaria)... and can be more than an attractive nuisance... There are a few approaches to their biological control... And I would start with the two most likely to get you results. A couple of Peppermint Shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni) or another species of Lysmata... and a member of the dragonet/mandarin/psychedelic goby family (Callionymidae)... my fave is Synchiropus morrisoni... otherwise do keep vacuuming them out when doing water changes. And the bleaching incident as you mention is very likely due to the light change... and Yes to switching to lower wattage lamps. I'd "unplug" one of your 96W for now... and you do still have the actinics? I'd be running them an hour before and an hour after the one 96W CF twin... on timers... Otherwise, keep up your calcium and alkalinity and the corallines should come back. Bob Fenner

Planarians We have several tanks building large populations of a reddish brown planarian. On the web  (http://www.austmus.gov.au/science/division/invert/mal/forum/chelvar.htm) we see that Chelidonura spp. will possibly eat this beast but we are unable to locate a source for this sea slug. Any ideas on how to obtain one of these slugs? What will Clout (Aquarium Products) do to these creatures? What bad effects will Clout have on a reef tank? Any other suggestions on how to reduce/eliminate these flatworms? James Lubbock, Texas >> I do commiserate with you... Try the Sea Slug Forum for much more on this genus... but don't see many members in the trade (they don't live, sell very well)... but can be collected out of the South Pacific and Australia (have seen them frequently underwater)... maybe an urgent request through your supplier... Otherwise, have you tried "the usual suspects?" the Peppermint shrimp (Lysmata wurdemanni....) and other members of the genus? The several species of the dragonet/psychedelic goby family Callionymidae will sometimes eat the flatworm du jour.... And no to the Clout in your marine system... this product includes an organo-phosphate (acetylchlolinesterase inhibitor)... very bad news for many types of life... should only be used in a hospital tank set up with ready water changes handy... Bob Fenner

Planarians Tommy, this is the questions I sent to BobFenner@FFExpress.com at his daily Q&A at FFEXPRESS. I will let you know the response. I looked at my tank and there are many, many of these beast and lots of babies. They must have come on the rock. I bet you have them in the big tank now since we brought in plants to that tank. If we can get some of the sea slugs (they are really pretty) I suggest we rear them. It seems like their food is easy to raise. James We have several tanks building large populations of a reddish brown planarian. On the web  (http://www.austmus.gov.au/science/division/invert/mal/forum/chelvar.htm) we see that Chelidonura spp. will possibly eat this beast but we are unable to locate a source for this sea slug. Any ideas on how to obtain one of these slugs? What will Clout (Aquarium Products) do to these creatures? What bad effects  will Clout have on a reef tank? Any other suggestions on how to reduce/eliminate these flatworms? James Lubbock, Texas >> Don't know a source of these animals... or their propensity for consuming any given species of planarian/flatworm... most folks start off with a goby/blenny/Callionymid species and hope one of these will eat some of their flatworms... and grade up, depending on their other livestock to more aggressive species of potential predators....  I would definitely not put Clout in my marine or reef tank... one of the active ingredients (unless the formulation has changed) is a pesticide (an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor,,,, organophosphate) too many chances of poisoning... Bob Fenner

Infestation? Dear Bob, I have a 120 gallon reef tank that has been set up for little over a year. It has 100 pounds of Fiji live rock, 4 inches of substrate, 3 shrimp, many many hermits of all sorts, numerous soft and hard corals (both LPS and SPS), two clams, and three fish (2 clowns and 1 yellow tang). I use two 250 W 6500K metal halides for the lighting. Other than the usual waxing and waning of some the animals, and an occasional outbreak of red slime algae on the substrate, the tank appears to be thriving and the chemical parameters seem to be where they should be (no nitrates, stable pH, calcium around 380 ppm, alkalinity about 3.25 meq/l). My question is this. About two months ago I noticed an outbreak of small (around 1 mm) brownish-orange square-shaped creatures on the substrate and rock. I think they are some sort of Planaria; at least I know they are animals, because when I poke them they move. I see no evidence that they are harming any of the corals or clams in the tank, but they seem to be exploding in numbers. None of the other animals, shrimp or hermits, appear to be eating these things. Should I be concerned or is this just one of those phases in the life of a reef tank? If there is reason to be worried, how would I control these things? Thanks, Steve Tiffany >> Hmm, I actually Would Be concerned... maybe not so much for the probability that these flatworms (yep, methinks they're some sort of "Planaria" as well) might be/become predatory... but their sheer numbers will affect, make that mal-affect your water quality... But how to get rid of them... most are as palatable as the (blue green red algae you mention... The best starting place is one of the more hardy members of the dragonet/mandarin/psychedelic goby family (Callionymidae)... maybe Synchiropus morrisoni if you can find it... If that doesn't work, keep siphoning... and call me back. Bob Fenner

Red flat worms? Hi Bob I am from Warsaw in Poland. I have a 125gal tank with live rock, soft and hard corals, 7 fish and 4 shrimps. Two weeks ago I saw plenty of flat worms especially on my three Sinularia and on the glass. Small, flat, brown creatures approx. 1-3mm. On the one of my Sinularia there is something like a light brown cobweb, the other is covered something like a light brown powder. I am siphoning it off, but without effect. I have heard that Mandarinfish eat these worms. I was also thinking about using Marin Oomed or Gold Oomed (Tetra). What suggestions do you have? Thanks. Krzysztof Tryc >> Don't go the chemical route (just yet)... do try a mandarin (here goes my plug again for the related, same family, Callionymidae, Synchiropus morrisoni... and if that fish doesn't eat your particular type of flatworm... we'll try the next one in line... a wrasse species of the genus Pseudocheilinus. I wouldn't worry (too much) about the cobweb and dust appearance on your soft corals at this point... Bob Fenner

Red worms all over Dear Bob, I am having a huge problem with red acoelomate flatworms. They have taken over my beautiful 25 gallon reef, and I suspect that their high populations are the cause of my horrific algae problems (from what I understand, the accumulate toxins and release them when they die). My water parameters are good (0ppm Nitrate and phosphate). I plan on tearing down the tank (unless I can get rid of them otherwise). I would like to reuse the rock and aragonite, so can you please offer any advice on how to rid them from the rock permanently? Thanks. Avery >> There are a few approaches... the biological (roulette) is the best to start with. What potential predators have you tried thus far? Some crabs, fishes eat some of these worms... How about a Callionymid to start? That is, a type of "mandarin"... my best one to begin... probably a Synchiropus morrisoni... then we'll raise the bar if this doesn't do the trick... what shrimps have you had? Did anything eat any of them or even look interested? This is an important clue as to palatability. Bob Fenner

Flatworms or Red-Rust Planaria? I recently went to look at a reef tank I definitely would have purchased were it not for the huge infestation of what is commonly, but incorrectly I am told, referred to as Red-Rust Planaria. Delbeek and Sprung have them pictured in their TRA vol. 2 and label them as Red-Rust Planaria. In doing a bit more research and bulletin board lurking, I have learned that they are just some type of flatworm and not Planaria. > Can you tell me more about these little guys? > How can they be prevented? How can they be controlled once in the tank? > And how could a massive infestation be eliminated from a tank. or can it be? Are they bad to have other than covering up all the LR? Should I have passed up a deal for $800 on a 75 reef w/ 130lbs. Fiji LR, Icecap 660, Marine Technical Concepts Skimmer, 2 Iwakis, DIY Kalk Doser, 4 stage Spectrapure RO/DI w/meter for DI, about 12 various softies, and 2 fish, all because of these "flatworms"????????????? >> Thanks, >> Dave > >> > Geez, what would Billy Shakespeare say? "What's in a pet-fish name?". Yes, I agree with you, the Platyhelminths in marine systems are not "Planaria", but other (mainly turbellarian) flatworms... but, you know what's coming... the "medium is the message" and many folks are already familiar with the term "Planaria"... And they are flatworms.... as well. > Now, about preventing them... tough to do. If you can cure, store your own live rock for a few to several months you might catch their emergence in many shipments, and avoid their introduction into your main/display system... > But getting rid of them? Some are apparently more tasty than others. Some shrimps (my fave try is the genus Rhynchocinetes, e.g. "Camel Shrimp")... some wrasses (my fave first try are the Pseudocheilinus) might munch them... and then you/we can raise the bar and try various butterflyfishes, filefishes, even triggers... > Or you can go the vacuuming route, ultimately the "live and let live" ignore them and hope they'll exit stage left... > Was this a bargain that you passed up? Seems like a pretty good deal to me, but I'd like to see the condition of the equipment... you could have "rinsed" most of the flatworms away, or rendered the live rock to base and placed new, inoculating live rock on top of it... > To be continued... no doubt. > Be chatting, > Bob Fenner

Flatworms "Planaria" My 135 gal reef tank which has been set up for about 1 year recently developed an infestation of Planaria. There have been no new additions for the last four months. The corals are still in excellent health and are exhibiting signs of growth. They include Green Hammers , Red and Green Open Brains, 3 Elegance, Bubble, 2 Varieties of Hydnophora, Torch Coral, assorted mushrooms, A Cynarina lacramalysis, (meat, modern cats eye), and an unidentified leather possibly a devil's finger. I've even tried a mandarin goby and a six line wrasse and still these pests are present. I really have not seen either fish eat any of these flat worms. Sprung & Delbeek in Vol 2 recommend a variety of Nudibranch, C. Varians. The fish population is small 2 perculas, 2 green Chromis, 3 Chinese zebra gobies, Randall's goby. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Greg >> I know what you mean... and it's tough to get rid of these flatworm plagues... even if the animals don't appear to be causing trouble. Other than selecting vacuuming them out, keeping an eye out for the elusive specific Nudibranch predator, I'd try another, in this case, larger species of "lined" wrasse (genus Pseudocheilinus), either an Eight Line or an Evan's or Disappearing Wrasse... Let's keep our fingers crossed that these labrids find your species of flatworm tasty. Bob Fenner

Flat Worms Hi Bob I have a 20L reef set up, with two Skilters (both doing 400 gph) running,30 lbs. live sand, 20 lbs. live rock, various mushrooms, star polyps, soft corals, and a coral banded shrimp. No fish at the moment, as I'm  readying for a 75 gallon reef in the next two months. Question: My live rock is teeming with what appear to be planarian flatworms. They are everywhere. I feed the tank once every two weeks, and the only other source of energy to them in on the rock, and from the lamps (2 actinic, 2 6500K). I had this problem once before in another aquarium, and solved the problem by adding a small mandarin. The problem is, the local pet stores have a horrible reputation with regards to the quality of their fish, and I know how delicate mandarins can be. Once of the fish I plan to have in the new set up is a six-line wrasse, Pseudocheilinus hexataenia. Would this help rid the rock of these worms? I plan to use the rock in the new tank in a couple of months, and I'd like to get rid of these worms as completely as possible before the set up is complete. <Let's see, flatworms to get rid of (I agree) in a small system that you intend to move all the livestock and rock to... The new wrasse might help... but I'd go a little further and "raise the bar" and ask that local retailer or another hobbyist to lend you a trigger... Place new liverock in the new tank, and move all the other livestock other than the old live rock after the new tank has cycled. Give the trigger a couple of weeks after not seeing any worms to give him back and then another couple of weeks for safety's sake to move the rest of the old rock... though, if it were me, I'd leave it out for a much longer time. Bob F> 



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